Dec 29, 2001
BERKELEY - Dennis Gates, known mostly for his defensive prowess, came through with the biggest shot of his career, nailing a three-pointer with 4.0 seconds left to lift Cal to a 76-73 win over Penn State in the championship game of the Golden Bear Classic Saturday.
Cal (9-1) built as much as a 10-point lead in the second half, but Penn State (4-7) kept the game close on outside shooting from guards Brandon Watkins and Sharif Chambliss. Still, the Bears managed to keep an advantage down the stretch until the Nittany Lions tied it at 73-all on a Chambliss three-pointer with 1:27 left.
Neither team scored on its next possession and Penn State rebounded an Amit Tamir miss with 25 seconds left to try to set up a final shot. However, Tamir pressured Nittany Lion forward Jan Jagla into a traveling call, giving the Bears a last chance with 13 seconds to go.
Shantay Legans faked penetrating into the key and dished out to Gates, who was waiting just outside the top of the circle. Gates, who finished with 15 points, sank the bucket to put Cal ahead. Penn State then tried to drive back down the court, but Gates drew a charge from Watkins with 1.4 seconds on the clock.
Cal center Solomon Hughes made 8-of-10 shots from the floor to finish with a career-high 19 points and earn tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Gates also gained a spot on the all-tournament team, which also included Watkins (19 points) and Chambliss (18) as well as Harvard's Patrick Harvey.
With the win, Cal finished its non-conference record with a perfect 9-0 mark at home. The Bears begin Pac-10 action Jan. 4 at Stanford. The Cardinal then returns the trip to Berkeley Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.
Cal head coach Ben Braun postgame quotes:
On the Game:
"This was a learning experience for our team tonight. Give Penn State a lot of credit, they played extremely well. They executed well, they hit shots all night and they were extremely tough. They should go far this year with this team. It was a tough game for us and a big win for our team."
On Dennis Gates:
"Give Dennis credit. He was a part of two huge plays at the end of the game ... one of which will probably go unnoticed. With the winning three-pointer, we diagrammed the play in the timeout. Our guards split and created an open shot from the top. Dennis is a winner and he's not afraid to take that shot. He's always thinking. Shantay (Legans) and Dennis (Gates) did a good job of working the offense and not taking that shot too early. Just as important though was the charge that Dennis took with four ticks left on the clock. He had his foot planted out of bounds and took the charge flush, preventing Penn State from taking the last shot. Give Dennis a lot of credit tonight."
On Solomon Hughes and Amit Tamir:
"Solomon was outstanding. He's a hard worker with a great attitude. He's a guy that wants the ball and he showed that tonight ... with a career-high 19 points. Amit complemented Solomon real well tonight. In only his second game, we are excited about what we saw out of Amit. He really makes the people around him better."